House of Sand and Fog (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

House of Sand and Fog (2003)



Critic Consensus: Powerful and thought provoking film.

House of Sand and Fog Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Massoud Amir Behrani is living a lie to fulfill a dream. Once a member of the Shah of Iran's elite inner circle, he has brought his family to America to build a new life. Despite a pretense of continued affluence, he is barely making ends meet until he sees his opportunity in the auction of a house being sold for back taxes. It is a terrible mistake. Through a bureaucratic snafu, the house had been improperly seized from its rightful owner, Kathy Lazaro, a self-destructive alcoholic. The loss of her home tears away Kathy's last hope of a stable life--a life that had been nearly destroyed by addiction--and Kathy decides to fight to recover her home at any cost. Her struggle is joined by deputy sheriff Lester Burdon, who tries to take the law into his own hands to help Kathy. Ultimately the tale, itself, explores what happens when the American Dream goes terribly awry.more
Rating: R (for some violence/disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Andre Dubus III, Shane Otto, Vadim Perelman, Shawn Otto, Shawn Otto
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 30, 2004
Box Office: $12.9M
DreamWorks SKG - Official Site


Ben Kingsley
as Behrani
Ron Eldard
as Lester
Frances Fisher
as Connie Walsh
Navi Rawat
as Soraya
Carlos Gomez
as Lt. Alvarez
Samira Damavandi
as Little Soraya
Matthew Simonian
as Little Esmail
Al Faris
as Wedding Guest
Mark Chaet
as Wedding Guest
Joyce Kurtz
as Kathy's Mom
Scott N. Stevens
as County Official
Ken Kerman
as Locksmith
Scott Kinworthy
as Deputy Trainee
Tom Benick
as Hotel Security
Samuel Hart
as Elevator Man
Jackie Ahdout
as Elevator Woman
Spencer Garrett
as Auctioneer
Isabelle James
as Teenage Girl
Bonita Friedericy
as Motel Manager
David Carrera
as Carpenter
Joe Howard
as Appraiser
Dan Brinkle
as Husband/Buyer
Yan Lin
as Wife/Buyer
Ashley Edner
as Bethany
Tom Reynolds
as Gas Station Worker
Jose Luis Lopez Vasq...
as Arresting Officer
Matt Waite
as Arresting Officer
Frank Gallego
as Prison Guard
Karl Makinen
as Officer at End
Markus Baldwin
as Young Husband
Elton Ahi
as Wedding Singer
Shani Rigsbee
as Wedding Singer
Andy Madadian
as Wedding Singer
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for House of Sand and Fog

All Critics (179) | Top Critics (39)

The vivid clarity of the images, the compressed fury of the tale, are impossible to get out of your head.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

Perelman and his long-suffering stars make a spectacle of pain, but fail to register any lighter notes, while the denouement seems calculated to wring out every last tear.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

If "House of Sand and Fog" ultimately feels like a failed exercise, it has less to do with Perelman's limitations than with a book that would have been better served by staying on the page.

Full Review… | September 26, 2005
Washington Post
Top Critic

Connelly, who has often mistaken posing for acting, digs deep here; Aghdashloo ... gives us a portrait of a woman who is both dutiful to her husband and ravaged by his iron will. Kingsley is most impressive of all.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Serious and thoughtful; for mature teens+.

Full Review… | December 24, 2010
Common Sense Media

A lack of empathetic characters cripples this poorly paced but well acted drama about an Iranian family who purchase a city-auctioned bungalow in Northern California after its former tenant has been unjustly evicted.

Full Review… | May 9, 2009

Audience Reviews for House of Sand and Fog

"I have taken us so far off our course, but now it is time to return. It is time for us to go home to our destiny."

There are no good or bad characters in House of Sand and Fog. Just a lot of flawed individuals who seem to unintentionally make matters worse at every turn. This isn't a feel-good movie, to say the least.

The story is about a conflict over a house that is very important to several different people. The woman that it originally belongs to is wrongfully evicted from it, and it ends up being sold to an exiled Iranian man who needs the house as part of a plan to provide for his family. An unimaginable amount of conflict and tragedy ends up resulting from this unfortunate situation.

I'm an avowed fan of these kinds of dour dramas. House of Sand and Fog has all the emotional power of a movie like Revolutionary Road or Little Children, without the heavy-handed preachiness of Crash. This movie isn't trying to teach you anything or tug on your heartstrings, it's just a well-told story about tragedy. Combine that with solid writing, a good score, and a great cast (lead by Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley), and you have a movie that is a fine example of the drama genre.

Lewis C.

Super Reviewer


An extremely powerful film. Kingsley gives a performance that should be up with the bests of all-time, where Connelly, strikingly beautiful, gives an Oscar-worth one as well. A deep story that is rich in characterization as well as with things such as material possessions and how much we place value in them. A heck of a depressing story with people who are extremely troubled and have very few redeeming qualities, but in the end it really makes you take a strong look on how much you place value on items, such as a simple house, and the effects these possessions can have on your life.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


Solemn and well-directed drama, about a family who gets in bitter conflict with the previous owner of their newly bought house. The first half is pretty slow, but it builds up tension well for what happens in the second, where things really shift into high gear. One thing I really appreciated about the film, was the fact that it was very hard to predict the final outcome of the plot. That, along with its superb acting and refined script, makes it into an above-average drama, and one I'd gladly recommend. Be aware though that it's very tragic in tone. So if you're looking for something cheerful with a happy end, you may want to look elsewhere.

Mike S

Super Reviewer

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